Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencils Review

Visual Appeal
Overall Ranking

Stabilo CarbOthello Pencils

12-60 count pack

Charcoal core

Round barrel

Mid to premium-priced


Great blending and unique texture

Vivid color

Reasonable price


Can be a bit messy

Smaller sets will require some mixing 


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Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencils Review

Updated by Brandon F. on July 13, 2020

The CarbOthello pastel pencils by Stabilo are pastel pencils that have a unique chalky texture to them.  Like many pastels, these blend quite well and are viable in both wet and dry applications.  The color output is good to quite good, even after dilution through blending and the color options are acceptable especially in the larger sets.  These 4.4mm charcoal cores come in a round barrel in quantities from 12 up to 60.

Visual Appeal – 4/5

These have quite a high pigmentation for a chalk pencil, and as such, they can lay down some pretty good color.  This is especially helpful when blending, which you will need to do to achieve many colors if you are going with one of their smaller-quantity sets.  The larger sets have a very good range of warm and gray colors, and vibrancy is on-par across the board.

In particular, we enjoy the browns, blacks, and whites in the larger sets.  They produce great, thick color and can help to make certain areas of your drawing almost pop off of the page.  We have found that you can easily put these colors down dry and spread them to your liking to produce great color fades with minimal effort.

When using water, strokes of the pencil seem to keep a lot of their color which should help minimize how many layers are applied.  This can come in handy when trying to cover large areas of a piece with a single color and tone.  A little bit of water will go a long way so be sure to start slow and you’ll be impressed with the color range you can achieve.

Usability and Durability – 4/5

Being a rather chalky pastel/charcoal-based pencil, these can get a bit messy during use.  This isn’t anything unique and is typical of this type of core.  It is a small price to pay for the great blending and overall feel, however.  Strokes with these pencils feel controlled, thick, and waxy.  Altering pressure can result in a dynamic range of application depths which can open up what you are capable of with minimal effort.

With water, the choices are even greater.  These are extremely versatile pencils and even play nicely with other pencil lines.  Sharpening difficulty is about average and they should hold up to a decent amount of abuse.

Our only issue is that in highly detailed areas, it may be easier to use a traditional wax-based core.  This is simply because chalk tends to spread more easily and even an unintentional bump or tap could move the color to areas that you don’t want it.

Packaging and Presentation – 4/5

Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencils come in an attractive case and, depending on the quantity, can even be purchased in a wood case with two levels and included sharpener and eraser.  The pencils themselves are externally colored to match the core color and the base is a whitish-gray color.  The type and color of the pencil are also stamped on the outside of the barrel.  This all combines for a very attractive, classy look that we think you will enjoy.

For identification, you will find the stamping displays the company name, pencil type, and color code.  Our only wish is that they would include the actual color as well (not just the color code.

Cost – 4/5

These pencils are in the mid to premium-priced range, which makes them competitive with other higher-end scholastic grade pencils and lower-end professional grade pencils.  Considering the performance of these and the fact that they will hold up against some of the best, this is a perfectly reasonable price.  And it is also a chance for you to likely try something new in a charcoal-based pastel colored pencil.

Overall Ranking – 4/5

A great-performing, versatile, and downright fun example of a charcoal pencil, the Stabilo CarbOthello is a lovely addition to any art toolbox.  Great blending and vivid color make these a good choice for any project and the relative ease of use makes them an acceptable set for a novice or an experienced artist alike. 

Color options are varied enough to appease most and the presentation is quite nice. The only challenges you may have is trying to use these in highly detailed areas or if you simply prefer the feel of a more traditional wax pencil.  But overall, we think everybody should give these a try.

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